The Colosseum in Rome

Italy Tailor Made Holidays

A country at the epicentre of civilisation for over two millennia

Ironically, the birthplace of an empire that once controlled much of the then-known world only became a united country in the latter half of the 19th century and, today, regional differences are still fiercely asserted. From the lakes and mountains that border Switzerland in the north down to the hot, sunny regions of the south - to say nothing of the unique enigma that is Sicily - few countries in the world can offer the open-minded traveller such a diversity of culture, landscape and cuisine.

Where do you start to explore this wonderful country? Some choose a logical progression from north to south; others take it a region at a time and immerse themselves in the delightfully local character of the people, landscape, food and wine. Below we have suggested a tour on the luxury Venice Simplon Orient Express. Whichever way you choose to see Italy, a Tailormade holiday will ensure that you discover more than you ever imagined.



Suggested Italy Tailor Made tours


The Essence of Italy

The city that civilised the world

From the powerful city state of Rome there once radiated a system of power and control that influenced the history of much of Europe and beyond. The mixture of ambition, culture, scholarship and decadence that epitomised the Roman Empire is still evident in the people of Rome to this day. This is a city where modern life revolves around the evidence of its former glory and, for anyone who loves to live life to the full, it is one of the most vibrant places on earth.

Garibaldi - the figurehead of a united country

The red-shirted unifier of Italy is both lauded and derided. Whereas the advantages of a united country are obvious to many, some still believe in a local autocracy that, it has been said, makes Italy ungovernable. For the traveller, this political diversity ensures that a tour of Italy means, in effect, visiting many different countries, each with its own unique and charming characteristics.

Wherever you go in Italy, there will always be pasta

The origins of pasta in Italy have been long argued about, but its universality as the country's favourite food is unequivocal. Quite simply, in Italy everyone eats pasta. Fresh or dried, made by hand or machine, no-one knows exactly how many varieties, shapes and sizes exist across the country. What is certain is that, wherever you go in Italy, you will find a delicious version to enjoy, served with a sauce that encompasses the best of local produce.

Vespas and Lambrettas - symbols of youth and rebellion

The Italian motor scooter was the iconic vehicle of the 50s and 60s, spreading its image of freedom and mobility across the globe. Originally manufactured in Milan, this cheap, stylish and easy-to-drive means of transport, so readily customised to demonstrate its owners individuality, became the de rigeur means of transport for Italian youths - and the young at heart - who relished the independence that it gave.



The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express

From £3150 per person (based on two sharing)

Gondolas in Venice

The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express needs no introduction. Composed of original 1920s and 1930s carriages featuring exquisite Art Deco decoration, this iconic luxury train offers its passengers the opportunity to experience the romance and elegance of the golden age of rail travel.

The train offers an incomparable dining experience, with three vintage restaurant cars built between 1926 and 1929, all with beautiful interiors and a team of waiters ready to attend to their guests. The sumptuous cuisine is freshly prepared on board by French chefs from the finest of ingredients and a comprehensive wine list is available. Brunch, lunch and dinner are served in the restaurant cars whilst breakfast and afternoon tea are served in passengers' cabins.

The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express also has a 1930s bar car decorated in Art Nouveau style and an on-board boutique selling a selection of gifts and home ware as well as a range of accessories for ladies and gentleman.

The VSOE's elegant cabins date back to the 1920s and have all been carefully restored to their former glory. By day, the private double cabins consist of a seating area with a banquette-style sofa, table and footstool. Whilst passengers are at dinner, the sofa is converted into upper and lower berths complete with the finest bed linen. There is a washbasin in the cabin, whilst a WC is located in each carriage. All passengers in a double cabin are given the very best in personal service by their cabin steward, who is available 24 hours a day to attend to their every need.


An itinerary to inspire you

Day 1

Depart from London St Pancras to Paris Nord on Eurostar, travelling in Standard Premier Class. On arrival at Paris Nord you will be met by your own personal driver who will take you to Paris Lyon railway station. Your journey will then continue by high speed TGV train through the beautiful French countryside and into Switzerland. After changing trains in Geneva the journey continues along the shores of beautiful Lake Geneva to Montreux. Your accommodation for one night is the 4-star Eden Palace Au Lac Hotel, on a bed and breakfast basis.

Day 2

You return to the railway station this morning to board the direct train to Venice. On arrival at the floating city's Santa Lucia railway station, you walk the short distance to your hotel for three nights, the 4-star Hotel Papadopoli. Your mid-afternoon arrival time allows you to begin exploring the fascinating city today.

Days 3 & 4

You have two full days to spend exploring Venice at leisure.

Day 5

On Day 5 you have a leisurely start to the day. After checking out of the hotel, you walk to the station to board the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, the legendary luxury train which has inspired countless writers and filmmakers. After your steward settles you into your comfortable compartment, all you need to do is relax and watch the stunning scenery as it passes by the window. Enjoy lunch as the train passes through the magnificent Italian Dolomites. As you travel up through picturesque Austria, tea and pastries are served on board. It is soon time to dress for dinner - why not sip a cocktail in the bar car before making your way to one of the restaurant cars, where you are served a delicious four-course dinner, prepared by a skilled French chef. The minimum dress requirement in the evening is a suit and tie for gentlemen and an equivalent for ladies. You may want to linger over a nightcap listening to the sound of the baby grand piano, and when you are ready, you can retire to your compartment, which has now been transformed into a cosy bedroom.

Day 6

A continental breakfast is served in your cabin as the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express pulls into Paris. The Orient-Express continues to the Channel and then on the Orient Express Pullman Train to London Victoria.


We've included:

Venice
  • Standard Premier class rail tickets from London St Pancras to Paris
  • First Class rail from Paris to Geneva and Montreux to Venice
  • 4 nights accommodation on a bed and breakfast basis
  • 1 night's accommodation in a double cabin on board the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express.




Lake Garda

From £1820 per person (based on two sharing)

Lake Garda

It's with good reason that Lake Garda is such a popular tourist destination. Not only is it an area of outstanding beauty, with elegant town and fine hotels, it is a convenient centre to journey farther afield. Included in our holiday are excursions to both Venice and Verona.



An itinerary to inspire you

Day 1

Depart from London St Pancras to Paris Nord on Eurostar, travelling in Standard Premier Class. On arrival at Paris Nord you will be met by your own personal driver who will take you to the Hotel Mercure Gare de Lyon where you will stay overnight on a bed and breakfast basis.

Day 2

Depart early in the morning by train to Desenzano, changing at Geneva and Milan. On arrival in Desenzano you will be staying for 7 nights at the delightful 4* Hotel Desenzano on a bed and breakfast basis.

Day 3

Today you are free to explore Desenzano, the popular holiday destination on the banks of beautiful Lake Garda. You could choose to take a boat trip to the beautiful lakeside towns of Malcesine or Bardolino, famous for its wine production and an excellent place for some boutique shopping.

Day 4

Today, we have included day return rail tickets to Venice which is only 1 ½ hours away. This wonderful city needs no introduction and you have ample time to explore and marvel at its magnificent sights.

Day 5&6

Two more days at leisure in wonderful Desenzano. You may choose to see all the sights, wander around and soak in the atmosphere or just relax. At the heart of the city is a series of interconnected piazze that house numerous open-air cafés, various shops, "gelaterie" (ice-cream parlours) and several bars.

Day 7

Today we have included day return rail tickets to the atmospheric and historic city of Verona - the setting of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, which is only 20 minutes away.

Day 8

A further day when you are free to enjoy Desenzano. Perhaps, you may like to take a boat trip to the charming lakeside town of Riva.

Day 9

Travel to Lausanne, via Milan. Tonight you stay the night at the comfortable 4* Hotel Continental, situated opposite the railway station.

Day 10

Depart from Lausanne station on the early morning TGV and enjoy the countryside as you relax on your journey back to Paris. On arrival, a driver will once again meet you and transfer you to the Gare du Nord for your Standard Class Premier journey to London St Pancras.


We've included:

Lake Garda
  • Return Standard Premier Class rail tickets from London St Pancras to Paris
  • 1st class rail tickets throughout
  • Private car transfers between stations in Paris
  • 9 nights' accommodation on bed & breakfast basis
  • Day return rail tickets from Desenzano to Venice
  • Day return rail tickets from Desenzano to Verona

We recommend:

Lake Garda
  • The ancient fortified town of Sirmione, located at the south of the lake
  • Market day at Desenzano, a feast of local food and crafts
  • A cable car trip to the summit of Monte Baldo, Lake Garda's highest mountain
  • The famous 'Juliet' balcony in Verona
  • The great Roman arena - one of Verona's most imposing sights
  • The wonderful, many-flavoured ice cream from the gelateries in Desenzano


Rome, Florence and Venice

From £2179 per person (based on two sharing)

Trevi Fountain, Rome

A uniquely enchanting holiday that takes you to three of Italy's most famous and historic cities. Between, comfortable train journeys allow you a unique vantage point to see the beautiful and ever-changing landscape of Italy.


An itinerary to inspire you heading

Day 1

Depart from London St Pancras to Paris Nord on Eurostar, travelling in Standard Premier Class. On arrival at Paris Nord you will be met by your own personal driver who will take you to the Hotel Mercure Gare de Lyon where you will stay overnight on a bed and breakfast basis.

Day 2

Depart early in the morning to Rome, via Turin. On arrival in Rome you will be staying for 3 nights at the delightful 4* Hotel Massimo d'Azaglio on a bed and breakfast basis.

Day 3&4

You are free to spend today exploring the eternal city of Rome. There are so many famous sights to see in this most vibrant of cities but be sure to spend some time looking around the wonderful shops and relaxing and watching the world go by at the pavement cafés. The food in Rome is amongst the best available in the world, so you'll be spoilt for choice.

Day 5

Today we have arranged for you to travel from Rome to Florence by rail, through the wonderful Tuscan countryside. On arrival in Florence you will be staying for 3 nights at the 4* Hotel Santa Maria Novella on a bed and breakfast basis.

Day 6

A day spent exploring Florence. The architecture here is truly magnificent, there are superb restaurants serving the traditional Tuscan spit-roasted meats and don't miss the famous Uffizi Gallery with, amongst other gems, Michelangelo's statue of David.

Day 7

Today, travel by rail to Pisa to see the famous leaning tower. Return rail tickets from Florence to Pisa are included.

Day 8

Today your tour continues north by rail from Florence to Venice. On arrival in Venice you will be staying for 3 nights at the 4* Hotel Papadopoli on a bed-and-breakfast basis.

Day 9&10

Two days to spend exploring the wonderful romantic city of Venice, one of the most evocative and exciting in Italy. You may decide to take a gondola ride or have a drink in the world-famous Harry's Bar.

Day 11

Travel from Venice to Lausanne, via Milan. On arrival in Lausanne you will be staying at the 4* Hotel Continental on a bed-and-breakfast basis.

Day 12

Travel from Lausanne, via Geneva to Paris Lyon. On arrival at Paris Lyon a driver will be waiting to transfer you to the Gare du Nord for your return Standard Class Premier Eurostar to London St Pancras.


We've included:

Duomo, Florence
  • Return Standard Premier Class rail tickets from London St Pancras to Paris
  • 1st class rail tickets throughout
  • Private car transfers between stations in Paris
  • 11 nights' accommodation on bed & breakfast basis
  • Day return rail tickets from Florence to Pisa

We recommend:

Gondolas in Venice
  • Marvel at one of Michelangelo's most moving sculptures - the pieta in St. Peter's basilica, Rome
  • Simply spend time wandering around Rome - there are amazing sights round every corner
  • Seek out one of the superb Florence restaurants that serve meat traditionally roasted on a open fire
  • A visit to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence is a must - in fact, you could spend a day there
  • The wonderfully ornate and atmospheric cathedral at Pisa
  • If a gondola trip on the Venice canals seems too expensive, take a ride on a 'vaporetto'

Experience
  • Book with the UK’s leading rail holiday operator with over 30 years’ travel experience
  • Our Tour Managers and experienced local guides share their in-depth knowledge of each destination
  • Choose a fully escorted tour or speak to our experienced Travel Consultants about a tailor made holiday
Value
  • Our tours include rail travel, transfers, a Tour Manager, quality hotels and many meals
  • Enjoy a full programme of exciting excursions, guided tours and sightseeing
  • Every holiday covered by the exclusive Great Rail Journeys Price Promise
Service
  • Speak to a dedicated team of Tour Advisors based in our York offices
  • Flexibility to add UK rail, domestic flights, overnight hotels, upgrades and tour extensions
  • Our service has been recognised in The Telegraph Travel Awards and British Travel Awards
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  • All flight inclusive bookings are ATOL protected under license 3278
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British Travel Awards 2013 - Best Overall Holiday Company by Train
The Telegraph Travel Award 2011
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